30 days has September, April, June and November, all the rest have 31, save February which has 28. Since February 2nd the next 28 days to March 2 were essentially rugby free thanks to the nasty polar vortex that has engulfed our area and dominated our weather. Finally the boys were ready to compete with some extra healing time courtesy of Mother Nature.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Richmond RFC – Loss 45-7
It was actually a sunny day at King George Park which certainly didn't mean it was warm. The Thirsty Thirds played Richmond RFC, which given the circumstances was well refereed as there was a shortage of referees to allocate. The Beaver side featured veterans Lance "Romance" Mathers, Joe "Crazy Joe" Kubus, Jason Leigh and Bryan "Vodka Smarty" Smart, all of whom corner-stoned this game. The forwards held their own with solid pack play, thanks to this leadership group. The first half was fairly even and at times the 3rds looked very promising. The game went back and forth, but Richmond managed some nifty work and took advantage of Beaver breakdowns and mental errors producing breakaway tries, but Richmond were showing no dominance. Ken "Grimace" Magtoto made a strong contribution playing somewhat out of position in the backs and scored a very strong try to his credit. Brandon "Woodsy" Woods was spirited at scrum half and showed all a glimpse of his potential with some good play. Bryan "Smarty" Smart played at 10 and distributed ball well. He had strong opposition at fly half and inside center, which was the strength of the Richmond side. The general flow of play was even distributed with Surrey giving away knock-ons that thwarted continuity, which has long been the 3rd Division curse, as such open field running was hampered. It was apparent that the Beavs might have had a couple more scores had they kept ball in hand in the back line. The lack of practice and repetition was costing scoring opportunities. At the end of the day it was a good clean game in true rugby spirit, which was largely due the senior leadership group with their hard, clean, and tolerant approach.
Tries: Ken Magtoto(1)
Convert: Bryan Smart(1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs United Rugby Club – Win 36-12
The Seconds took up against United Rugby Club at neutral site John Oliver Fields in Delta. The 2nd flite Beavers came out hard with experienced regulars in the pack, which maintained a lot of domination by way of field position. It was clear the Surrey rucking and support up front was going to be the difference. Cam "The Hammer" McMurchy-Barber was strong on his feet, crashing the United defense being more than a hand full, until he broke down. He managed a try before giving way. Andrew "I'm not from here" Johnson ran hard and contributed to the side until he too succumbed to being hurt. Joey "I also play League" Murphy was another forward who led by example with strong running and rucking. He scored a try and had another long run stopped on the 5-meter line. Congratulations to the new dad who played his heart out with thoughts of his new born, often an otherworldly motivation. Well done, papa. Ryan "I don't NEED a haircut" Mitchell was another piece of the meaty puzzle that was the Beaver forwards in scoring 2 tries and making territory gaining runs that sparked his pack mates in support. Nolan "Iron Horse" Spalek was in on the track meet and made a few solid runs that led to his try. Alex Bachmier scored and was a force with a huge effort, described as awesome. Bachmier and Spalek were equals for the man of the match, which is considerable considering Ryan Mitchell had 2 tries. The United forwards were not up to the level put out by the 6 Surrey forwards mentioned. The entire pack made strong contributions in a steady form of play, doing a lot of the dirty work that allowed the others to shine. In this game, as happens occasionally, the forwards took the play to the opposition so thoroughly that the backs main concern was staying warm. Having said that, Brandon "I'm still not pregnant" Craig was very solid at 9 but ended up with a hand injury and had the Div 1 game to get ready for. The backs played well even though they didn’t score. Matthaus "Mustachio" Smith should have had a try that was called back having been ruled second motion. Rob Sisson and Aaron Martin play was very stout and took the ball up hard in the middle of the field creating space all around them. The score was very indicative of the game. Surrey outplayed United 3:1.
Tries: Cam McMurchy(1) Joey Murphy(1) Ryan Mitchell(2) Nolan Spalek(1)
Converts: Brandon Craig(2) Bryan Smart(2)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs United Rugby Club – Loss 14-8
The Beavers confidently walked onto the pitch after having defeated United in the last 3 meetings this season, and quite handily in both meeting in the fall half. Scrum half Dylan Tatomir was a last minute scratch which caused some challenges especially because all other scrum halfs were already active for the matches earlier in the day. Other regulars were struggling to rearrange their personal schedules after having a month off. This caused some gaping holes to be filled and a chance for some seconds to step up and shine after a decisive win. However the group was still confident that they could get the task done considering they still had a solid group of veterans taking the field. The players who took the field hadn't played a game of rugby together and hadn't had a full team run to become a cohesive unit in over a month. It was going to be a struggle to put down a solid game plan for this game.
The game started with the Beavers controlling the play, it was a solid start to the afternoon. The Beavers quickly had the ball and were going up the field with some good solid running. United defended very well making excellent tackles, but the Beavers kept pressing. Surrey was taken back by this a little and United kept up the work rate for 80 minutes with a majority of it United playing defense. After some well controlled ball in United’s side of half, Surrey elected to enforce "Rusty's Law", which is to take the points from a penalty kick within the kickers leg. In the first 10 minutes of the game Brandon "The Cat" Gatto's kick was just short and hit off the cross bar, not one Beaver chased the kick and it was recovered by United. This was a harbinger of what was to come. United recovered the ball and relieved the pressure. Surrey pushed forward and were repelled throughout the entirety of the match by the United side that was now well drilled defensively. The Beavers would either turn the ball over with sloppy play or knock it on in contact when players were looking to do too much. The frustration and disorganization was showing for the Beavers on offense. The backs seemed leaderless out on the pitch and the forwards were not working effectively as a pack with ball in hand. To put a finer point on the situation, a handful of starters were recovering from the flu earlier in the week and this did not allow for the boys to work on much at training. It showed on the field that players were lost, and the overall fitness was lackluster from most of the players and the attack was disjointed. The course of play was not up to Division 1 standards. The United captain snagged an errant and ill-advised pass on the wing and ran it back 60 meters for the try, while the Surrey looked on in disbelief and frustration, the convert added insult to injury. The score still only 7-0 with 20 minutes left in the first half but it felt a lot bigger than that. The Beavers controlled most of play and possession, United was stifling everything Surrey had. Set pieces belonged to the Beavers who overwhelmed the scrums, unfortunately the open field play was less than desirable.
The boys couldn't take advantage of quality set pieces and the good hard earned yards they gained was being given right back to United who were stellar on defensse. Brandon Gatto at 10 had a challenging day, he had routinely been relied on to find touch, provide clearance when required, and slot penalty kicks. On Saturday many kicks were wanting and the Beavers did not adjust on the field. The backs looked out of sorts and the forward and back combination even more so.
The second half found the Beavers on the comeback after John Eadie put a major score down near the sideline, bringing the tally to a 7-5 deficit. The Beaver Skipper tried to rally the boys and reminded them of the game plan, keep it simple and play as if it were the first game of the season. It was a simple message that didn't seem to resonate with all the players. The territorial match was somewhat downhill and played in the United defensive real estate. Surrey appeared to maintain about 80% of the ball possession in the last 40 minutes, despite this they were unable to crack the United goal line. Kicker Brandon Gatto wasn't feeling confident enough to go for points and with only difficult angle shots at the posts available the Beavers were resigned to either scrum or kick for touch and attempt to drive the ball over the line. Some penalty tap plays were attempted but to no avail, as usual the boys found a way to either turn over the ball or lose it in contact. Based on previous games against United, Surrey believed at some point United's defense would crack and the gates would opne. The Beavers were looking to find the solution to the United puzzle, and couldn't sort out the one play that would break the line. With the lack of training sessions underneath most the players belts they could barely manage their own individual play. Riley Robinson replaced a hurt Brandon Craig earlier in the first half and even more dysfunction fell over the boys on the offensive side of the ball. Full credit to Robinson for stepping up, but the boys had absolutely zero reps with Riley at scrum half in training and it showed.
The frustration mounted although there was a lot of veteran presence on the field it was not to be enough on the day and United was loving every minute of it. Players were getting unfocused out on the pitch and although the scoreline was showing it to be a winnable match the Beavers were beating themselves up. Defensively Surrey was sound when United attacked, and most of United’s offense was coming off of turned over Beaver ball. With that reflected in United only scoring on a Beaver miscue in the first half. With about 6 minutes left and time running out Gatto slotted a penalty, right near the posts, and made the call easy giving the Beavers a narrow 8-7 lead. Surrey knew they just had to retain possession and control the ball. Things started nicely from the kickoff, collecting possession and pushing up the field. However after a few phases of pounding the ball, the ball was called for by the 10 and then a simple flat pass from 10-12 was intercepted in the backfield and ran under the posts by United. Not exactly part of the game plan doing a center crashes in the Beavers’ own 22 but that play basically summed up the Beavers day. The Firsts had diligently clawed their way back and in a flick of a wrist it was gone. 14-8 United. Being not quite dead yet, with approximately 3 minutes left the Beavers were pressing. United elected to ground and pound the ball. Paul Kelly, who was consistently aggressive on defense all day, successfully caused a United knock-on. Important ball possession was acquired, however, not for long as the Beavers knocked the ball on again. The forwards showed one more time that they were the better scrum on the field drove the United pack into oblivion causing a penalty against them. The boys could smell an opportunity and chose to go for touch and try a set play off the catch and drive from the line out, however for whatever reason touch was never found and the game ended.
It was a tough loss for the Beavers to swallow, but full credit given to United they were the better team on the day, showing the constant improvement previously noted in this forum. The Firsts perhaps took United a bit lightly, which was further complicated by missing key players in key positions. In the overview it is hoped this result could be a character builder and provide the lessons that will be needed in the following weeks. It is never easy to beat the same team time and time again and this time it was United’s turn to celebrate after a hard day on the pitch.
Try: John Eadie(1)
Penalty Kick: Brandon Gatto(1)
Weather permitting and at the schedule makers discretion, Saturday March 16 should have the 2nds & 3rds at Crush Crescent at our neighbors from Langley, with the Firsts away down Hwy 1 to meet Abbotsford RFC in the Valley.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing......